UMass Football Will Leave Mid-American Conference at End of 2015
March 26, 2014
AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts announced today that it will end its football affiliation with the Mid-American Conference (MAC) following the 2015 season.
Athletic Director John McCutcheon said the decision was made after the MAC President's Council elected to exercise a contract clause that offered UMass a choice of becoming a full member for all sports in the MAC or opting to remain a football-only member for just two more years. The university has been conducting a study of its current and potential conference alignments with the assistance of Carr Sports Consulting.
"While the report is not complete," McCutcheon said, "we believe full membership for all sports in the MAC is not a good fit for us. Because most of the MAC schools are in the Midwest, the additional travel would strain our athletic budget and pose considerable time management challenges for our student athletes. We are confident that, within the next two years, we will find a more suitable conference for our FBS football program."
Currently, UMass Amherst has 21 varsity athletic teams (10 for men, 11 for women). Football plays in the MAC and the other 20 teams compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference, Hockey East (men's ice hockey) and the Colonial Athletic Association (men's lacrosse). UMass began playing as a football-only member of the MAC in 2012.
McCutcheon said, "We remain committed to FBS football. Many institutions have successfully navigated this challenging period of conference realignment and we will do the same."
Football coach Mark Whipple expressed confidence in the future of the university's FBS program. "I was aware of this possibility when I accepted the position of head coach, and I believe this move is in the university's best interest. My focus is on building a program that we all can be proud of and that provides a great experience for our student athletes."
Whipple, the coach with the most wins in UMass football history, returned to the helm of the program this year. The Minutemen's 2014 home schedule includes three games at refurbished McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst in addition to three games at Gillette Stadium.